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Jeff’s Corner 5-24 17

Hello, and here we go

I wrote this two years ago in Jeff’s Corner, and said at the time I would post it every Memorial Day Weekend. Sometimes I write stuff, and sometimes it writes itself, like this. I can only imagine his memories.

“Jeff’s Corner 5-22-15

The door opened at the wine shop last Sunday on Main Street, and a much older man made his way up the two steps bent over his walker. He was sporting a brand new black cap with “U. S. Marines” embroidered on it in gold letters. He was followed by two younger guys.

They walked up to the tasting bar and one of the younger gentleman said, ”This is my Grandfather, we just came from the Pacific War Museum. My Grandpa landed on the beach at Iwo Jima, fought the entire battle, and would like to try some wine."

I wasn't serving them, but I interrupted and told him it would be an honor to shake his hand, and that he was a hero. He looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes and a firm handshake, saying that he graduated from high school in San Antonio in 1942 and couldn't wait to join the Marine Corps.

Today starts Memorial Day Weekend, a holiday, but every year I take a step back to think about why we have the freedom to take this day off. We are honoring more soldiers that have died for us than we could ever imagine.

Memorial Day celebrations began after the Civil War to honor both the Union and Confederate dead. It was called “Decoration Day” which continued the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers.

To me, this day has nothing to do with politics and hawks and doves. Looking into the eyes of that Marine last Sunday, I didn’t see an older man with most of his life behind him; I saw a young kid trying to suppress a fear very few of us could ever comprehend. He was charging up a forsaken beach in the Pacific Ocean for his generation, and our generations to come...”

A BIG Hello today!

A few weeks ago I was talking with my friend Ross Burtwell, owner/chef of the Cabernet Grill. He was at the vineyard pairing his “Warm Texas Goat Cheese with Roasted Garlic & Herbs” with the newest vintage of our beloved Bellissimo at our April Wine Club pick-up event. (It was fabulous, by the way!)

He mentioned that he had some recipes that might be fun material for Jeff’s Corner. Of course I jumped at the idea, and later he wrote to me: “The two items I decided to highlight are two of my all time favorite pairings from a couple of vintner dinners we did featuring Grape Creek a few years back.”

These, along with the above goat cheese recipe, are found in Ross’ cutting-edge cook book “Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors from the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant”. This, and all the lovely photographs in his book, are by Jennifer Whitney.

We’ll do these one at a time. Again in Chef Burtwell’s own words: “The first recipe is for an appetizer of Jumbo Lump Crab with Avocado and Coconut Curry Lime Broth. We paired that with the Cuvee Blanc and it was simply stunning how well it worked together.”


Jumbo Lump Crab with Avocado and Coconut Curry Lime Broth

Serves four


½ cup yellow onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

3 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1 oz safflower oil

2 cans coconut milk (13.5oz cans)

1 ½ Tablespoons curry powder

1 ½ Tablespoons fresh lime juice

Kosher salt and white pepper

1 cup jumbo lump blue crab meat

1 small avocado, peeled and cut in quarters


• Sweat onions, garlic, shallots and ginger in oil over medium low heat for about eight minutes

until translucent, do not allow to brown

• Add curry powder and sauté briefly until aromatic.

• Add coconut milk and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

• Add in lime juice.

• Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and strain the onions, garlic and ginger from the soup and


• Divide lump crab and avocado equally and place in the bottom of each soup bowl and place the

bowls in a hot oven for three minutes to heat the bowls and the crab and avocado.

• Pour very hot soup over crab and avocado and serve.

Jeff’s Corner 5-11-17

Hello and Hello

Years ago, Kathy and I were enjoying one of many great conversations we had with Ned Simes, the founder of Grape Creek. Ned was a visionary and a pioneer in the diaper years of the Texas wine industry. (One of my favorite writers said you can tell a true pioneer because he’s the one with arrows sticking out of his butt, and Ned certainly suffered lots of attacks in the early days.)

I was half-joking and asked him why he was giving the very first wines produced in the Texas Hill Country French names. Many of these (Cuvee Blanc, Grande Rouge, and Cabernet Trois) are still mainstays in our portfolio. In true Ned style he answered “Well, the way I see it, I own this vineyard and I can name the damn wines whatever I want.” That ended that question.

Anyway, this is a very roundabout way to introduce the new 2015 Cabernet Trois. (It should be released in about a week!) I’m about to pull the cork, and once again Brian and Jason’s forecasting for the year is uncanny. Last year I wrote about the 2014 on May 18.

Our Cabernet Trois, vintage after vintage, always ranks at the top of my favorite GCV wines, and before I even get it in a glass, my crystal ball is telling me the 2015 won’t be an exception. It carries a Texas appellation, and marks the Silver Anniversary of this outstanding wine. (1991 is the oldest vintage I could find in our library.)

True to its roots and moniker, the ’15 is a meld of “The Big Three” Cabernet grapes. Jason and crew have crafted an awesome blend of 55.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28.7% Cabernet Franc, and 15.8% Ruby Cabernet. The alcohol by volume is a reasonable, yet respectable, 13.8%.

The color is a dark, dense garnet with a ruby undercurrent. The rich inkiness of this wine is in part due to a relatively high percentage of Ruby Cab. Visually, it’s beautiful.

Like the ’13 and ’14 Cab Trois, the 2015 is dense and complex. Right out of the bottle it shows dark aromas of black fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, licorice, cocoa, and leather. Sensible amounts of oak are well balanced with fruit and spice on the palate, and for a young wine they are well integrated with rich tannins and high-spirited acids.

The finish is elegant and lingering, with great symmetry between flavor and structure. This wine will develop beautifully over the next several years, and is a fitting tribute to celebrate 25 vintages of Cabernet Trois.

Kath and I really enjoyed this last night with a simple grilled tenderloin, sautéed creminis, and baked spud. In fact, I’m going to finish Kathy’s steak while she’s snoozing on the couch. See ya...

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